Kraft Foods Inc CEO Irene Rosenfeld was going door-to-door in London on Wednesday, visiting Cadbury's largest shareholders at their offices to win support for a $17 billion takeover bid.

But Rosenfeld was finding some of those doors closed, as a number of Cadbury shareholders have declined to meet while Kraft sticks to a hostile offer they believe is too low.

It is highly possible that we will have some dialogue with Kraft if they come up with a higher offer next week, said one top 20 Cadbury investor who declined to meet with Rosenfeld. The investor was referring to expectations that Kraft would raise its bid by a January 19 deadline.

But the investor did not believe Kraft, or Cadbury, could divulge new information that was not already public.

Arguably we are still in the phony war phase now, the investor said. I think with all the time and money invested so far, Kraft is unlikely to walk away. There is scope to improve the offer.

Kraft declined to give details on Rosenfeld's itinerary.

Cadbury Chairman Roger Carr said on Tuesday he was amazed that Rosenfeld had taken so long to make a direct appeal to investors. He portrayed the Kraft offer as a choice between the excellent track record of Cadbury management and the unfulfilled promises of Rosenfeld's leadership.

Kraft has offered cash and stock worth 10.51 billion pounds ($17.12 billion), or 769.1p per Cadbury share. That is 2.6 percent below Cadbury's price on Wednesday.

Kraft shares were up 0.44 percent at $29.42 early Wednesday afternoon, after the maker of Oreo cookies and Velveeta cheese raised its 2009 earnings forecast 3 cents to at least $2 a share.


As Kraft and Cadbury enter the final stretch of their showdown, other potential suitors have lost interest.

Swiss food giant Nestle said last week it would not enter an auction for the British chocolatier, while Italy's Ferrero has decided not to make an offer, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters on Tuesday.

Ferrero's withdrawal of its interest clears the field for Kraft, but we still expect Kraft to have to pay over 800p to win Cadbury, one analyst said.

Hershey Co , once seen as a potential partner with Ferrero on a bid for Cadbury, is still mulling its options and has not decided whether it will proceed with a formal offer, a person familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.

Analysts have been skeptical that Hershey could afford a bid on its own. A Hershey spokesman declined to comment.

Hershey shares were down 1.6 percent at $37.15 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Cadbury investors have until February 2 to respond to Kraft's offer. On Tuesday, the company offered its final defense against Kraft, delivering higher margins and promising a raised dividend.

Meanwhile, British Secretary of State for Business Peter Mandelson was expected to add his weight to union calls for Cadbury shareholders to resist Kraft.

Mandelson called a group of institutional investors to discuss their role in foreign takeovers of British businesses on Thursday, and Kraft's offer for Cadbury was expected to be at the top of his agenda.

Mandelson will lead a team of British members of Parliament in the talks while the institutional investors will be led by Keith Skeoch, chief executive of Standard Life Investments, one of Cadbury's biggest investors.

The Unite trade union said nearly 30,000 jobs were at risk if the debt-laden Kraft wins, and urged Cadbury investors to put the wider public interest ahead of price.

A Kraft spokeswoman said the assertions of potential massive layoffs were utterly unfounded.

($1.63-1 GBP)

(Additional reporting by David Jones, Jessica Hall and Martinne Geller; Editing by Michele Gershberg, Maureen Bavdek, John Wallace and Richard Chang)